Guangzhou, a lively metropolis also known as flower city, is one of the biggest cities in China, situated along the Pearl River, making it a famous international port. History older than 2,200 years still reflects its heritage forever. The built heritage of historic areas of the ancient city and the religious places of worship is intangible, with distinctive libraries, museums, and cultural parks. Culture followed by a group of people from southern China, famous for their cuisine, language, music, opera, calligraphy, paintings, poems, architecture, bonsai, handicrafts, and folk costumes.

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Guangzhou Twin Towers_©Wikipedia

01_Routes of its heritage

Since Guangzhou is an ancient city, it’s still preserving its rich architectural heritage with must-visit historical sites. By the time people try to keep up with the culture, which is why growing cities lose their original aesthetic values. Before incorporating the English language in China, Guangzhou was called Canton. 

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Guangzhou’s Temple of the Five Immortals_©Wikipedia

02_Balancing past, present, and the future

China is known for its weird architecture, which results from its eagerness to stand out in every possible way. Its divine energy grows from affordable shopping streets to amusement, entertainment, skyscrapers, and luxurious malls. History has been well retained even after thousands of years in some areas. Guangzhou is a historical and cultural city with “City of Ram” and “Ear of Grain City” status. “Five Rams” has turned into the image of Guangzhou. Lingnan culture is an essential piece of awe-inspiring Chinese culture. Excavated objects from Lingnan ancient sites demonstrated that Lingnan culture is native culture. As shown by archaeological relics and historic sites, humanism, pragmatism, endeavor, and development are significant components of Cantonese culture. These cultural components frequently track down their expression in architecture, customs, planting, business, religion, and different types of art.

03_Chen clan ancestral hall: The ancestral temple of the Chen family

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Chen Clan Ancestral Hall, Cantón, Guangdong, China_©Felipe CHEN

An academy that belonged to students having the Chen surname (as they were preparing for an exam) now houses Guangzhou Folk Art Museum. The Chen Clan Ancestral Hall has an exceptionally traditional look, and it is immense. Intriguingly, the design was underlying conventionally, while buildings going up in developing commercial areas in the south frequently had a Western architectural style. The structure highlights complex wood carvings inside and finished wooden rafters. The facility was additionally a holy place to venerate the Chen family predecessors. When the government took over, it became a museum displaying remaining artwork, decoration, art and craft, old maps, and family trees.       

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Chen Clan Ancestral Hall, Cantón, Guangdong, China _©Felipe CHEN

04_Guangzhou Architectural Style

By embracing foreign culture and modernization, Guangzhou became the first coastal city to do so. Qilou Buildings, this arcade architecture is not typical Guangzhou architecture but standing prominently with ancient Greece colonnades by two or three stories tall. Xiguan Mansion is a traditional residence built for the local noble families during the time of the Qing Dynasty, the final imperial dynasty in china. Black bricks, Manchuria windows, and the most interesting part of Xiguan Housed; the wade cage gate is a horizontally movable fence. 

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An old street with around 200 yrs of history_©Rachel

05_European Neighborhood

Shamian was a historical port southwest of the old city of Guangzhou. In 1859, the French and the British opened their concessions here. After the Opium Wars, Guangzhou was treated as an honor; in this manner, a complex of European architecture was in focus. The prime among all is Gothic architecture- Sacred Heart Cathedral, also known as the stone house by the locals. The 77 meters tall structure is entirely built of granite stone extracted from the quarries of the ‘Four hills of Kowloon’ and transported from Hong Kong, and it is one of the four gothic cathedrals in the world that are made up of stone completely. The cathedral’s facade was modeled from the reference Basilica of St. Clotilde, Paris.

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Sacred Heart Cathedral_©Wikipedia

06_Modernist Canton tower

Right before the commencement of the Asian Games, it’s all ready to set fire. It topped out in 2009 and became operational in 2010 for the Asian games. The 604 meters tall Guangzhou Tower was introduced as the world’s tallest tower in 2010 but didn’t hold this record for long as The Tokyo Skytree surpassed it in March 2011, which is 634 meters. The bracing form of the structure came from the concept of two relatively rotating ellipses; one is at the foundation level and the other at the horizontal plane at 450 meters.

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Guangzhou’s Temple of the Five Immortals_©Wikipedia

The tower flaunts the world’s tallest horizontal sky wheel, a transparent twisting aerial ladder called the Spider Walk, and the Sky Drop. This is a fascination that will allow you to encounter a 30-meter drop from 485 meters up. This is the most noteworthy vertical free fall on the planet, so it’s a Guangzhou must-do for anybody. This tower has become one of Guangzhou’s most well-known and prominent milestones. 

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Canton Tower_©Tom Tong

07_Guangzhou Opera House

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Guangzhou Opera House_©Iwan Baan

This masterpiece by Zaha Hadid sits on the Pearl River and was the first project she did in China. The pebble-like design of the structure blends perfectly with the modern city skyline of Guangzhou with its riverside location. The main and the large pebble is 1800 seated auditorium houses with the latest acoustic technologies and the smaller one is of 400 seated multipurpose hall. The dramatic play of lines in interior and exterior allows natural light deep into the building to follow the architectural language of fluidity and seamlessness. The Guangzhou opera house has been the encouragement for the cultural activities.

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Guangzhou Opera House_©Iwan Baan

08_Baiyun Mountain Park

Aside from the developing modern city, some architectural monuments are still the same. The Baiyun Mountain is also known as The White Cloud Mountain because the peak is covered in clouds whenever the sky clears after rain and is informally known as the First Beauty in Guangzhou. There are seven scenic highlights on the mountain including majestic parks, crisscrossed valleys, and cultural parks. Luhu Lake is a public park located lakeside with a botanical and memorial garden. The scenic areas also include Yuntai Garden, Minghchun Valley, Moxing Summit, Mingzhu House, Yunxi Ecological Park, and a Sculpture Park related to Guangzhou’s heritage and culture.

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More scenes of Baiyun Mountain_©Eric Jones

09_China’s Only Green Avenue

By being one of the busiest commercial and growing cities in China, Guangzhou is also leading in sustainable growth making it more livable. Huacheng square, the commercial area in Guangzhou is unique for being entirely green and pedestrian occupies a 56 kilometers large area. Underneath are the metro lines, metro stations, bus stations, malls, etc. While the surface is restricted for the vehicles with parks, ponds, and other landscape features.

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Huacheng Sqaure_©JYChen

10_House for Great Museums

There are more than ten museums in Guangzhou itself. The five-storey Guangdong Museum is one of the major landmarks in the city and an identifiable cultural icon. This elevated museum is flexibly planned as a treasure box, each carving slice reveals different spatial arrangements of the museum. Main exhibition halls are punctured for the inlet of natural light and transitional resting and scenic space. 

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Guangdong Museum_©Almond Chu

The Museum of the Mausoleum of the Nanyue King is the oldest and the largest Han tomb in the city housed with over thousands of historical artifacts, a chariot, gold and silver vessels, musical instruments, and human sacrifices were found for the display. A silk-like fabric is in the spotlight which is made up of 2,291 jade pieces connected by silk thread making it one of a kind in the world. 

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Museum Of The Western Han Dynasty Mausoleum Of The Nanyue King, Cantón, Guangdong, China.🇨🇳 07.11.2017_©Felipe CHEN

Bibliography

Wikipedia Contributors (2019). Guangzhou. [online] Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guangzhou.

www.worldcitiescultureforum.com. (n.d.). Guangzhou. [online] Available at: http://www.worldcitiescultureforum.com/cities/guangzhou.

www.gz.gov.cn. (n.d.). Guangzhou International. [online] Available at: http://www.gz.gov.cn/guangzhouinternational/visitors/whattosee/cultureandhistory/content/post_3012710.html.

The Biggest Cities in China. (2020). 15 Interesting Facts About Guangzhou. [online] Available at: https://thebiggestcitiesinchina.com/15-interesting-facts-about-guangzhou/.

www.chinahighlights.com. (n.d.). Guangzhou Chen Clan Ancestral Hall, A Traditional Chinese Academic Complex. [online] Available at: https://www.chinahighlights.com/guangzhou/attraction/chen-ancestral-shrine.htm.

ArchDaily. (2010). Canton Tower / Information Based Architecture. [online] Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/89849/canton-tower-information-based-architecture?ad_source=search&ad_medium=projects_tab.

Fisher, K. (2021). Top 12 Amazing Facts About The Canton Tower. [online] art-facts.com. Available at: https://art-facts.com/canton-tower-facts/.

ArchDaily. (2011). Guangzhou Opera House / Zaha Hadid Architects. [online] Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/115949/guangzhou-opera-house-zaha-hadid-architects.

www.chinahighlights.com. (n.d.). Guangzhou Baiyun Mountain, White Cloud Mountain. [online] Available at: https://www.chinahighlights.com/guangzhou/attraction/white-clouds-mountain.htm.

Wikipedia. (2022). Huacheng Square. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huacheng_Square [Accessed 14 May 2022].

ArchDaily. (2011). Guangdong Museum / Rocco Design Architects. [online] Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/127122/guangdong-museum-rocco-design-architects.

Wikipedia. (2021). Museum of the Mausoleum of the Nanyue King. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Museum_of_the_Mausoleum_of_the_Nanyue_King [Accessed 14 May 2022].

Author

Riya is an architectural designer, planner and thinker, currently working in New Delhi. She believes having a delightful livable environment irrespective of the area is what everybody must-have, since part of human psychology effects by what we see and what we feel by our senses.

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